SIS is headed by Sir John Sawers, known as the Chief of SIS or
'C' (after the first Chief, Mansfield Cumming who signed
himself 'C'). Sir John took up his post on the 1st
The Chief's role
The Chief is the only serving member of the Service who is
officially named in public. He is appointed by, and is
accountable to, the Foreign
Secretary. The Chief is responsible for the control of
SIS operations and for the efficiency of the Service. He has a duty
to ensure that all SIS actions are consistent with its statutory
He makes an annual report on the work of SIS to the Prime
Minister and the Foreign Secretary.
Sir John's career
Sir John was previously the UK Permanent Representative to the
United Nations in New York from August 2007 until his appointment
From August 2003 until August 2007 he was the Political Director
at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In this post he advised the
Foreign Secretary on political and security issues worldwide, and
negotiated on behalf of the Foreign Secretary with international
partners in the G8, EU and UN.
Prior to this he served two years in the Middle East, as
Ambassador to Cairo, was Foreign Affairs Adviser to Prime Minister
Tony Blair, dealing with all aspects of foreign and defence policy
and headed the British Embassy team in Washington.
Sir John was a member of the Secret Intelligence Service before
joining the Diplomatic Service. His early postings included Yemen,
Syria and South Africa.